Do we really know TPLF?
By Abraha Belai, Ethiomedia
April 11, 2017

Habtamu Ayalew (April 9, 2017)

After nearly twenty-six years of misrule by TPLF, will you be surprised if we ask the question, "Do you really know TPLF?"

Don't get surprised because our overall situation is summed up best by the Amharic saying:

"መልህቅ ውኃ ውስጥ በኖረ፤
ተዘፈዘፈ እንጂ መች ዋና ተማረ!"

There were moments in which TPLF was on the verge of collapse because of circumstances beyond its control. Two best examples are the doomed 2005 election, and again, the doomed 2016 popular uprisings in mainly Amhara and Oromia regions.

Why did we lose them? Because we felt we knew TPLF. Actually, our knowledge of TPLF, the mercenary group this writer believes is Ethiopia's worst enemy in history, is cosmetic at best and scant at worst.

For all the crimes of TPLF, blaming the people of Tigrai or fleeing into the fold of Shabia in Eritrea shows our political ignorance as both acts play into the interest of TPLF - and their twin brother, Shabia.

This is what Habtamu Ayalew was struggling to make us understand the nature of TPLF when he addressed an April 9 audience in Washington, DC.

How many of us take TPLF as synonymous with the Tigrai people? Of course millions of Ethiopians believe in the deceptive notion that TPLF is an ethnic group struggling for the interest of the people of Tigrai.

Habtamu was trying to explain that it is indeed wrong (and fitting to TPLF policy) to mistake the people of Tigrai for TPLF. If we buy that concept, we are saying Samora Yonus is right when he said TPLF is Tigrai and Tigrai is TPLF. Actually, the people of Tigrai are the worst enemy of TPLF. They would be the first to draw the sword out of the sheath and finish off the solato. But who would understand them and cut short our painful existence under the criminal group?

I believe to understand TPLF is more difficult than a college math. It is a hard nut to crack. But Habtamu has already cracked open the hard nut, and we should learn lessons from the man who survived extremely vicious torture methods, constituting crimes that could be related to the public and crimes that are abhorrent and taboos that they should be locked up in the deepest chambers of the heart of the victim.

The speech given by this brilliant opposition leader should be a subject of public discussions among Ethiopians who seek change. Habtamu says TPLF was born and raised in violence, and to torture and kill its real and perceived enemies are the modus operandi of the TPLF regime. "TPLF cannot be reformed," said Habtamu, a line from a long-standing motto of Ethiomedia, which ends by adding, "Like apartheid, it should be dismantled."

But to dismantle the criminal group, Ethiopians should have a critical understanding of TPLF, should transcend the politics of ethnicity and forge unity. Do we really know TPLF? I've no doubt we don't. So, the first step is to try to understand TPLF by inviting enlightened, battle-hardened, torture-surviving Ethiopians like the charismatic Habtamu Ayalew.

Ethiopians have endured twenty-six painful years of rule under the bestial TPLF. What's worse? We are still deep in the woods. We need individuals who can hold our hands and take us through the precarious path out to freedom. I believe Habtamu Ayalew is one seasoned, time-tested patriot who can do the job better than the rest of us.

Are we ready to listen to him and change? Time will tell.



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